On the weekend my friend offered to take me outside of the city of Saint Petersburg where I came for one week. I thought it was a good idea, cause I probably would not go by myself so far. Fortunately my friend has a car. Our destination was a museum of the Russian artist Ilya Repin (Репин, Илья Ефимович) 1844 – 1930. It was his house and studio where he has created many famous works of art, like “Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire”, “Ivan the Terrible and his Son” and many more. I love seeing other artist’s studios and study something new and useful. This trip was very interesting to me. Thanks to my friend for taking me.
Repin’s house located few minutes North from Saint Petersburg, by car, area Penaty, now called Repino. House is not following any architectural rules, being a small country house at the beginning, it was reconstructed and edited with many more parts, eventually forming a fairytale-like house with many roofs and lots of windows, decorated in a traditional Russian style. It is especially beautiful in snow I think.
Any artist likes and needs a good light for creating art. Repin has surrounded his rooms with wide open windows, some of them are decorated even from inside of the house, in the way framing the views from outside as other painting on the walls. Artist has collected works of his colleagues and students and happily displayed them on the walls. Repin’s studio is spacious and bright. Here and there you can find objects, used as still life for different paintings. In a separate part of the large room, all surrounded by windows on the platform, in the center you can find a fancy chair. This chair was used for guest models. For many of Repin’s paintings people were posing in person. Sadly no where in the house we could take pictures, but my memories are very clear and I hope I will keep them for long, imagining that one day I will have a house-studio just like Mr. Repin.
His countryside residence is located on the forestry land with a little stream running through it. There are other constructions around, like a balcony for the poetry and Sheherezada tower, built in the honer of artist’s first wife, who he called Sheherezada. There is also a stream of water that artist turned into a pipe like construction. He would recommend to drink this water, believing that it cures you from any sickness and gives you strength. Repin would drink few sips of that water daily. Now days there is a sign placed next to it saying that this water is not recommended, there are some bad bacterias found in it, says the member of the museum stuff.
At some point of Russian history, during the war with Finland the border of Russia was moved, placing the land on the territory of Finland. Repin was asked to move back to Russia, but he has refused to do so, it was his home, he spend his youth and adultery time there, his studio is there. Thats how he was separated from his friends and the country. It was a hard time for Repin.
After loosing all his money in the Russian bank during the revolution time, artist was having a trouble keeping his house running. To help out the hunger situation, there was a vegetable garden set. Also to keep the house warm was much harder at times, many rooms kept cool. We could not find a bedroom of Repin, apparently he always slept on the covered balcony, even during winter.
Many of original works of Repin could be seen at the State Russian Museum (Русский музей) in Saint Petersburg. Please read my next article about the museum.
Repin has lived a long life, died at the age of 86, spending the most of his creative life at Repino. He is still there, berried about 100 meters away from the house.